1 What they‘re using.
Whether your loved one struggles with an addiction to alcohol, or narcotics, one thing is for sure. They are not telling you the truth when it comes to what, or how much, they’re using. For example, an alcoholic might tell you they’ve had a few beers, when in fact they just drank a pint of vodka. Your teen appears sedated, stating they’re tired. When in reality they just smoked a joint, or popped an opiate pain pill.
2 Liar, liar pants on fire! If you’re looking for the truth, don’t expect to find it.
You’ve probably confronted your loved one about their using. Chances are you were made to feel crazy, for it. Substance abusers display abusive and unhealthy behaviour, to keep you, off their back. Whether it’s yelling, avoiding, or turning the tables, the substance abuser will find a way to make you, shut up. They train you to walk on egg shells. You learn not to upset them by avoiding difficult conversations, which in turn, allows them to use in peace.
3 Addicts are master manipulators.
The only way addiction can thrive is to manipulate. An addict needs help to stay sick. They learn to queue off of your emotional signals. Your body language tells them how to play it, and who to play it, with. There is always an easy mark, or ‘go to’ person in every family. This person is the primary enabler. Their job is to clean up the addict’s mess. They can bankrupt themselves, trying. The primary enabler believes they understand the addict better than anyone else in the family. They are the main target of the addict’s manipulation. Together they form a highly dysfunctional, crippling and dependent, bond.
4 Addicts have no control over their addiction.
They won’t tell you this, because most of the time, they don’t believe it. Addiction is a delusional illness, interspersed with eye-blinks of reality. A few months before I went into treatment I’d been on a three day run. I was lying in bed with the covers pulled up to my chin. The horror of what I’d just done was unbelievable. I’d spent all the rent, grocery, and utility money, on drugs. There was no money left. That meant my children would go hungry and we would be homeless. The enormity of the situation, stole my breath. Really, I couldn’t breathe, but it passed and soon the cunning part of this illness, kicked in. I was already planning who I could hit up and what I could say – not the truth of course – to get me out of the mess I’d just made. Strangely, there were many who were willing to step up to the plate and buy my bullshit, again.
5 Can I borrow some money please? What the addict is really borrowing money for.
Have you ever been asked this question? It may have crossed your mind that the money you’re being asked for, is going to drugs. But then you look into the face of your loved one and meet their sincere gaze and… Fall for it! Although the tale may sound convincing, know this. If you’re being asked for money, it’s going to drugs. Even if the rent is paid from the money you gave or loaned, it is still going to drugs. Any money in an addict’s pocket will always go to drug first. IF there’s any money left over, they might pay the bills. If not, they will call YOU to do it for them.
6 If you feel sorry for me, I can get what I want from you.
Addicts love to play with your emotions, especially pity and guilt. You wouldn’t believe some of the doozies I came up with! I always had a hard luck story available, for anyone who would listen. In the bar it bought me beer – it bought me another month when facing an eviction notice – it bought me pain medication with my doc, and an extra cheque from the social worker. It even bought me more drugs, from my dealer. Poor me, poor me, poor me – pour me another!
7 What an addict is really doing, to get their next fix.
By the end stages of addiction, there is only one thought going on in the mind of an addict. MORE. If you think your loved one won’t steal from you, you’re wrong. Families are the first place the addict goes. Mom’s purse or jewelry. A sibling’s electronics. Grandma’s ring. A missing cheque. Woman will use their looks and charm to score their next hit. It’s easy. There’s always some good looking (or not so good looking) guy in the bar that will fall for it. You pretend interest when in reality, you’re only interest lies in what they can buy, or score, for you. This can get dangerous, as not every guy likes to be played.
Just as addiction progresses, so does what you’re willing to do – to get your next hit. Girls may end up using, or selling their bodies. Guys turn to crime, woman do too, but more often it’s the men. Your beautiful little girl may be out turning tricks on the street corner, and then coming home to you. Your son may have just snatched some old ladies bag, or pulled off a B and E in your neighbourhood. Most addicts will end up selling drugs to supply their own habit.
People, who struggle with alcoholism and substance abuse, don’t intentionally set out to hurt you. It’s not that personal. They just want what they need, and they need it, NOW.
Folks with addiction aren’t bad people (although they do some bad things) but they are sick.
Education and support are key, to recovering from addiction. Know the signs. You can greatly improve your loved one’s chance of becoming well, by not enabling their illness.
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